Harry Redknapp's claim that Queens Park Rangers need a miracle to avoid relegation this season looks all the more apposite after Loïc Rémy, the striker signed in January from Marseille for £7m, broke down with a potentially serious groin injury. Rémy been expected to lead Rangers' attack against Norwich City, but pulled up in training on Friday, and was sorely missed as his team-mates laboured to a goalless draw against a side without a win in eight league games.
"He tore a groin muscle. It happened in the last minute of training. He just kicked the ball and felt it go," Redknapp said. "We'll have a look it on Monday. No idea how long he'll be out for."
Although a QPR spokesman on Saturday night attempted to play down the seriousness of an injury that could keep the £80,000-a-week striker out for months, Redknapp's forward options look threadbare.
Redknapp's predicament is exacerbated by the failure to sign Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch on transfer deadline day, and Bobby Zamora's chronic hip injury.
The twice-capped England striker came on as a substitute against Norwich as he continues his convalescence from a hip operation in November and played a part in the buildup to Rangers being awarded a penalty, their best chance of victory and which Adel Taarabt had saved by the initial transgressor, Mark Bunn.
"Bobby made a big difference to us but he can't play longer than 20 minutes," said Redknapp. "His hip just seizes up on him and he might need another operation. Just getting him through 35 minutes is a miracle."
Redknapp also admitted that Chris Samba, recruited from Anzhi Makhachkala last week for a deal reported to be worth up to £34m in wages and fees, will need to be managed back to full fitness after spending two months resting during the Russian league's winter break. "I asked him yesterday how he was and his genuine answer was: '40% – I haven't played since November,'" Redknapp said. "He came out and played today, well the man is a colossus. A proper centre-half."
QPR seem increasingly capable of keeping sides at bay, last weekend's FA Cup debacle against MK Dons notwithstanding, but they could muster only three shots at goal in a dire opening half. Norwich ceded most of the possession to the hosts and their lack of pace on the counter was exacerbated by the loss on 24 minutes of the winger Anthony Pilkington to a hamstring injury which will keep him out of Republic Ireland's friendly with Poland on Wednesday. But they still managed the first two shots on target, the first a tame header from Robert Snodgrass and the second a volley from Wes Hoolahan that forced a wonderful save from Júlio César.
That stirred Rangers into an immediate response, with the introduction of Zamora drawing Norwich's attention and freeing Jamie Mackie to race into the penalty area. Mackie was heading away from goal and towards the byline when Bunn raced off his line and inexplicably ran into the forward. Taarabt's penalty was firm enough, but Bunn dived well to his left to push to safety. Rangers did not let their heads drop and dominated the rest of the match, with the on-loan Tottenham winger Andros Townsend a serious threat on either wing and another signing from Spurs, Jermaine Jenas, providing greater balance and shape in midfield after coming on for Stéphane Mbia.
Townsend had fans hoping for a winner in a belatedly promising period for Rangers, with a fierce drive from 30 yards, but Bunn again parried brilliantly to secure his side a point and give his manager, Chris Hughton, plenty of positives. "It was an excellent point to take away from home against a team who are in good form," said Hughton, who gave Luciano Becchio his debut from the substitutes' bench after his midweek arrival from Leeds United. "We're on the back of a dip in form but we wanted a reaction and we've had that. We're not getting the wins we want but we're building that gap between us and the bottom three, which is so important to us."